A new treatment for epilepsies, resilience training for adults, more efficient nickel and cobalt processing, and a breakthrough in the fight against obesity and diabetes were the Open winners in the 2010 Trailblazer competition run by The University of Queensland’s main commercialisation company, UniQuest.

Winning entries in the Student category included a novel vaccine delivery technique and a water filtration device designed for manufacture and use in developing countries.

The annual Trailblazer competition aims to stimulate entrepreneurial thinking and encourage students and academics to consider the commercial potential of their intellectual assets. This year staff and students from a wide range of UQ faculties, institutes and research centres submitted their innovative ideas, early stage research or inventions to compete for a share of $40,000 in cash prizes.

At a celebratory event on 23 June, ten awards were presented to researchers selected from a short-list of 20 finalists, following a morning of pitches to a panel of commercialisation professionals from UniQuest and platinum sponsors, Davies Collison Cave and Fisher Adams Kelly (national patent attorney and trade marks firms).

Gold sponsors Griffith Hack Patent Attorneys, ShelstonIP, and Cullens Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys also contributed to the prize pool, which included four Open winners’ awards of $7,500 each, two Student winners’ awards of $3,000 each and four Highly Commended awards of $1,000 each. The researchers behind the winning innovations also received trophies and certificates presented by UniQuest chairman, Dr Norbury Rogers AO.

Commenting on the array of new ideas with commercial and community impact potential in this year’s competition, UniQuest’s Managing Director, David Henderson, acknowledged the support of UQ’s senior researchers both as entrants and by encouraging their students to participate.

“This year, four of the six Open prize winners were submitted by students with the endorsement of their supervisors. A commercialisation pathway can accelerate the progress of a research idea to worldwide adoption alongside academic endeavour, so it is great to see this entrepreneurial spirit being fostered across all UQ disciplines,” Mr Henderson said.

With the nature of Trailblazer entries being typically early-stage and the value of the intellectual property yet to be ascertained, details of the innovations cannot be released publicly. However, the following descriptions of the winning entries highlight the exciting new concepts arising from UQ research:


  • Epifen –  Ms Melissa Benson with Dr Karin Borges from the Faculty of Science
    A potential anti-epileptic nasal-spray drug to quickly stop seizures, with few side effects.
  • READY – Dr Nicola Burton and A/Prof Kenneth Pakenham from the Faculty of Health Sciences
    A training program to help adults be more resilient in everyday life, with meaningful and practical information on how to cope with daily hassles and major life events effectively.
  • Nickel and Cobalt Processing – Mr William Hawker and Dr James Vaughan from the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology
    An efficient and effective process for separating nickel and cobalt resulting in greater refining outcomes and lower production costs.
  • Breakthrough Treatment for Obesity and Diabetes – Ms Felicity Rose (MMRI PhD student) from the Faculty of Science
    A vitamin-based therapy to enhance the effects of current diabetic medications and reduce adverse side effects.


  • Microneedle/Nanopatch™ Applicator – Ms Holly Corbett and Mr Michael Crichton with Prof Mark Kendall from the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology
    A simple device to improve cost efficiency in the advanced area of Nanopatch™ vaccination technology.
  • Ceramic Cup – Mr Callum Hickey from the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology
    A cheap water filtration device which uses sustainable materials commonly found in many developing countries


  • Fibroderm – Dr Tarl Prow from the Faculty of Health Sciences
    A new skin delivery method for a wide range of compounds with cosmeceutical, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, therapeutic and vaccine applications.
  • Indigenous Voice Closing the Gap Kit – Ms Heather Stewart, Mr Michael Williams and Dr Pauline Mulligan from the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
    A computer-based, industry-specific model to help teach journalists how to make informed choices relating to the coverage of Indigenous issues.


  • ECOSIS – Mr Ilje Pakaar with Dr Rene Rozendal and Dr Korneel Rabaey from the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology
    A highly effective method to avoid sulphide-induced corrosion in sewers and therefore reduce operating costs.
  • Water Pipe Fouling Inhibitor – Mr Simon Tannock from the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology
    Reducing the problem of biofouling caused by zebra mussels within the industrial pipe work of major buildings.

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